Life in the Left-Hand Lane

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Saturday, May 26, 2018

A Royal Wedding

"Are you going to get up early to watch it?" Nancy, one of my co-workers, asked.

It was the upcoming royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and the group of co-workers answering phones at our end of the phone room had been talking about it most of the morning between calls.

I answered no, 4:30 A.M. was too early to get up for anything not absolutely necessary.

For most of that week, it seemed that everyone was talking about the upcoming wedding. And who could blame anyone? Prince Harry was marrying an American who was biracial, divorced, and had worked as an actress. The last time a British royal married an American divorcee was was King Edward VIII in 1936 ("Cheers, Prince Harry! But the last time a British royal married an American, it didn’t go well."), and it cost him the throne; Edward was given the choice of marrying "that woman," as socialite Wallis Simpson was known, or staying on the throne.

For the record, Edward abdicated the throne and married Simpson, allowing his brother George to become king.

But that was more than eighty years ago. Times have changed. Besides, Harry is officially sixth in line for the throne, after his father, older brother, his nephews and niece. So there is no chance (or very little) that he would be given the choice of love vs. throne.

Part of me wanted to watch the wedding. I'd watched Prince Charles's and Princess Diana's wedding back in 1981, and while I hadn't watched William and Kate Middleton's wedding, I'd seen the photos and news stories in the days before and after. I mentioned that to Nancy.

"Diana looked so scared when she married Charles," Nancy said, and I'd agreed. But while Diana had looked a little unsettled, Kate had seemed joyous. Meghan seemed to be following in Kate's footsteps: happy, confident, excited.

The morning of the wedding, I'd gotten up at 5:00 to make sure my son M. was awake. He works on Saturdays, and usually gets picked up by his ride a little after 6:15. I then went back to bed, with my alarm set for six. (I have to run interference so our black cat, Karma, doesn't make a break for it. While he no longer seems to want to run the neighborhood, he still tries to head for the door, just to let us know he's still the boss.)

After Matt left, I went back to bed. But within half an hour, he was calling to ask me to look up something for him on the computer.

Darn, I thought. No going back to sleep for an hour or so...

By this time, it was almost 7:00, so I stayed up, fixed some coffee, and turned on the TV. The wedding was on, so I watched.

My daughter, M.H., and granddaughter had driven to a restaurant that was going to have a party to watch the wedding. But as luck would have it, the only available table left was outside on the sidewalk - with no chairs. So much for hanging out at the wedding party.

I watched through the lovely wedding (it really, really was quite lovely!), and actually enjoyed it. (Yay, Harry! Yay, Meghan!)

Later, after I'd turned off the TV, M.H. and G.H. stopped by. They'd ended up having breakfast at a restaurant that my other half and I'd eaten at years ago. It had been a nice Mom-and-Pop place when we'd gone there, open until 8 P.M during the week, serving home-style food. Now it closes around 2 P.M. and, from what I'd heard, is not nearly as good as it once was (it's no longer run by the two brothers who opened it).

"How was it?" I asked, when M.H. told me where they'd eaten.

"Not that great," I was told. "The food wasn't all that great, and the waitresses all looked sad."

I couldn't help but wonder why.

But for the rest of the day, while running errands, checking out some art at the Safety Harbor (Fla.) Museum and Cultural Center, where my daughter had sold a painting (yay!!!), and just hanging out, it seemed everyone mentioned the wedding. And while I hadn't planned to watch any of it, I'm glad I got to see at least part of it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Back Again...

After a long unintentional break from Life in the Left-Hand Lane, I'm finally back to posting. Depending on your point of view, that can be either a good or bad thing (or, maybe, simply neutral thing).

There are times when life gets complicated, when one gets way too busy, and some of the things we love doing gets pushed to the side. That's what happened here. A new job, rearrangement of circumstances, general havoc, and, well, you get the picture.

But at least I'm back to posting here.

Will there be my observations of things going on, both in my personal life and/or in life in general that happens to more than my immediate family? Definitely.

Will there be occasional political posts? Most likely.

(Yup, I still don't like a certain person in the White House, one who has followed Barack Obama, but then, I'm entitled to my opinions and reasons. We're still allowed freedom of speech, etc. here in the U.S. I may not agree with you, or you with me, but we're still entitled to our opinions.)

Will my posts still occasionally show my warped sense of humor? Most definitely.

That said, stay tuned, and wander back soon.

I know I will...

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Politics As (Un)Usual

"Have you ever heard of Broad City?" my youngest son, J, asked me yesterday. "It's trending on Twitter."

I had never heard of Broad City and asked J what it was and why it was trending. Apparently, it's a show on Comedy Central. It was announced that during Broad City's new season, Donald Trump's name will be treated as an obscenity, bleeping it whenever his name comes up.

I immediately loved this. I've never been a Trump fan, especially since he decided to enter politics, and most especially since he won the presidential election. I've written about my love (or, rather, lack thereof) of Trump in several posts here ("It's Been an Atrocious Election Year..." , "Politics Make Me Sick", and "Donald Trump as What?", for starters).

If, after reading those posts, there's any doubt about how I feel about our current regime (oops, president), you might need to reread the posts. In her book Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith, one of my favorite writers, Anne Lamott, wrote, "I have had it with (George W.) Bush." And I am so over Trump. I also love that Stephen King was known to call Trump "he-who-shall-not-be-named" on Twitter (well before he was blocked by the tweeter-in-chief). Another one of my favorite writers, who is one of my friends on Facebook and who I won't "out" here without her permission, has taken to calling t.i.c "baby man." It fits.

All this is leading up to today's news: "Congressman Targeted: Rep. Scalise, Others Shot at Baseball Field". According to NBC, "House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was standing at second base during a congressional baseball practice when a gunman opened fire and hit him in the left hip, witnesses said."

The New York Times reported that the lone gunman opened fire on Republican members of the congressional baseball team because he "was reportedly distraught over President Trump’s election" ("Steve Scalise Among 4 Shot at Baseball Field; Suspect Is Dead".)

No matter how angry (or "distraught") one is over something, this is not an acceptable way of handling that anger. The only reason to resort to such means is if someone is directly threatening you, for family/loved ones, or those around you with certain death. Any other reason is unacceptable. Protest. Write. Use legal means. This could include impeachment proceedings. But damn, not violence!

I still don't like the direction the current regime is headed in, the craziness and unethical way those in power are treating the poor and working class. It's basically class-warfare. But if we're going to fight back, we've got to do it without violence.

Otherwise, we're no better off than hate-mongers who try to destroy the country for all of us.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

They Don't Make Them Like They Used To...

I wish I had $5 for every time I've heard someone say, "They don't make 'em like they used to." Heck, with inflation, make that $10, since $5 doesn't buy what it used to. Add cash for every time I've uttered the words about making 'em like they used to, I'd be rich.

We could start with cars - my daughter, M.H., just bought another car to replace one she'd bought several years ago, which was really on its last legs or tires - but we won't. The only good part about not making cars like they used to is that Yugos are no longer being made. But the rest - the sturdy steel cars from Detroit's heyday - are enough to make one sigh.

Maybe six years ago, I decided to buy a new dining room table and chairs. It was the first time I'd ever had a brand new table and chairs, and they'd be replacing a dining room table a friend had bought for me twenty-plus years ago. That table was still in relatively decent shape (I really should've kept it, but that's another story), but the chairs had fallen apart and been replaced several times. New chairs and table were obviously what I needed to buy.

I found what I wanted on a chain-store's website and ordered away. (Note: This is not necessarily the smartest way to do this, since seeing a picture of something online doesn't quite give you enough info. Turned out that the table is bigger than I'd anticipated for the size of the dining room.)

A week or so later, a delivery truck arrived. The driver and his helper brought in the table and chairs, put them together, and that was that.

Within maybe eight to ten months, the chairs started falling apart big time. I called the store I'd bought the table and chairs from to see if they'd replace the chairs. For what I paid for them, I figured they would. (They did.)

Here's where it started getting a little strange. The customer service person on the phone asked if I'd bought the table with four or six chairs.

"Four," I answered.

"Okay, yeah, I just found that on the site," I was told. "Four chairs. Great, we'll send them on out."

The problem was that they would have to charge me for the chairs, then refund the money back to my account when the old, broken chairs were received back at their warehouse.

"You're kidding, right?"

Nope. I sighed and gave them the card number.

"You'll need to take the old chairs apart, box them up, and put them into the boxes that the new chairs came in," the man from customer service told me. "We'll also schedule UPS to pick up the boxes with the old chairs from your place the next day, so make sure you take care of it right away."

Around 6:00 P.M. the following Monday, a UPS truck pulled up in front of my house. The driver climbed out, went around back of the truck, got a dolly out, then brought four large boxes up to the house. He knocked on the door, then muscled them, one at a time, onto the porch, where my sons and I then muscled them into the house.

After getting the boxes laid out on the living room floor (the dining room is right off the living room, so no biggie), I opened the first box. There were two chairs in the box. I opened the next box. Two chairs in that one, too!

From what I figured out, the guy at customer service heard four chairs and went to type in the correct amount into his computer. As with computers, though, if there are blanks to fill in, you might not get to fill in all the info; it's entirely possible that their computer wanted the number of items, rather than chairs, shoes, what-have-you; just a generic items. Then, whoever pulled the order to send out saw 4 items rather than 4 chairs; this obviously meant 4 boxes with chairs...which came out to (you guessed it) 8 chairs! If it had been a math equation, it would've been:

4 chairs = 4 items;

4 items = 4 boxes;

4 boxes X 2 chairs = 8 chairs; which gives you:

4 chairs = 8 chairs. Guess this is what's considered new math!

I put together four chairs (two boxes' worth), took the old chairs apart, put them into the boxes that the new ones came in, taped up the boxes, flipped the address labels around so that they'd go back to where they'd come from, and that was that.

The next day, I stuck around the house, waiting for UPS to show up to pick up the four heavy boxes, tripping over them whenever I'd have to go through the living room. (Yes, the living room is small enough and the boxes were large enough that they did take up much of the available floor space.)

Just before 5:00, I began wondering if customer service had actually put in an order to have the boxes picked up, so I called UPS and asked if anyone was on their way to pick up the chairs.

"I'm really not sure," I was told. "I'm not seeing anything, but that doesn't mean that we don't have someone on the way."

So, just in case, I made sure that they'd come out the next day for the chairs.

"And the packages are pre-paid?" the woman on the phone asked. They were. "Good enough. We'll be by tomorrow to pick them up."

"But you can't tell if anyone's coming this afternoon?"

Nope, that would have entailed another phone number.

By 7:00, I was pretty sure that no one would be picking up the boxes until the next day. J. and M. and I dragged the boxes into the utility room so that we wouldn't trip over them that evening.

Ten minutes later, we heard the rumble of the UPS truck just outside our house. (You saw that coming, didn't you?! We should've, too.) I met the guy at the door - the same driver who'd dropped off the heavy boxes the day before - and asked him if he'd be able to bring the dolly to the back door.

"Sure thing." He also guessed why I'd moved the boxes.

The next day, I was at the grocery store when my cell phone rang. Apparently, UPS had sent the exact same driver out to pick the chairs up again. When he'd arrived the night before, it had been too late to reach anyone to cancel the pick up. When I'd called that morning, I was told not to worry, everything was fine.

"He looked really relieved when I told him there weren't four more boxes of chairs to pick up," J. told me. Well, I guess! Those things were heavy!

We needed to replace the chairs two more times, as they kept falling apart in a matter of months. This huge table came with chairs that probably should have been marked as "perfect for the super-model who weighs no more than 98 pounds; not meant to hold more than 100 pounds."

The last time two of the chairs fell apart, I put them into our spare room, figuring I'd try fixing them. But after a while, I realized that that was not happening, and put them out on trash day. We still have two of the last four chairs here...

Meanwhile, my mom had had a dining room table and chairs that a neighbor of ours in Connecticut had built during the mid-1960s. When she sold the set, maybe ten years ago, they were still a solid, usable set, chairs and all. (The neighbor had had a small furniture building company and put pride into everything that was built.)

Then there's the computer desk I bought and put together. Ditto the entertainment unit. They're both showing much too much wear...and it's not like they're antiques. Just cheaply made. Meanwhile, the desk I'm working on at the moment was made by a late in-law 60+ years ago! It's nothing fancy: desk top, metal strip around the edges, place to sit with plenty of leg room, and three drawers stacked up on the right-hand side. It's not glamorous, but dang, it's sturdy and still in great shape. It'll probably last another 60+ years.

No, they don't make 'em like they used to.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Donald Trump as What?

Donald Trump has been inaugurated as president of the United States.

Let that depressing news sink in. It's going to be a long, bumpy four years.

Eight years ago, I wrote a post on my original Journalistic Writings blog about President Barack Obama's inauguration. Four years later, when President Obama was inaugurated for a second term, I reposted it on my Journalistic Writings, Two blog.

And now we have Donald J. Trump. It seems we've gone from classy to trashy. How else does one describe going from a president who tried to be inclusive, was still married to - happily married to, from the looks of it - his first wife, was strong enough to take a stand without calling people derogatory names to someone on his third marriage (divorced twice), allegedly cheated on all three of his wives, bragged to Billy Bush (who seemed to be amused by DT's bragging) that he'd grabbed women by certain bodily areas, that one could "do that if you're rich and powerful enough", calls people he doesn't like or who aren't rich WASP (white anglo-saxton protestants) men derogatory names, and spouts off without thinking first, then has to back-track with "well, that's not I meant"?

Personally, I like how the writer Stephen King has referred to trump on Twitter as "he-who-shall-not-be-named." Lately, King has mentioned trump's name...but apparently is still not a fan. I just knew there was something I liked about Stephen King (besides his writing).

Of course, Trump didn't win the popular vote, but he did win the Electoral College's vote. I totally get the Electoral College being needed when the United States was in its infancy. But with technology the way it now is, there's no reason we can't have every person's vote count...Every. Single. Person's. Vote. Counting.

Back in August, I posted that Politics Make Me Sick on this blog. (They still do.) In that post, I mentioned one of my favorite writers, Anne Lamott. Anne wrote about George W. Bush during his years in office, and mentioned, "A friend called to wish me Happy Birthday, and I remembered something she's said many years ago, while reading a Vanity Fair article about Hitler's affair with his niece. 'I have had it with Hitler,' Peggy said vehemently...And I've had it with Bush."

At the time I read that, I thought, "Yeah. I can relate." But at the same time, I figured that after he left office, if I ran into George W. at, say, a barbecue or other gathering, I might actually chat with him and his wife for a few minutes - and actually be civil about it.

I can't, however, say the same about trump. I can't picture myself even crossing the street - crossing a two-lane street with maybe five cars on it all day - to say hi to trump. I am soooooooooo over trump.

It's going to be a long, bumpy four years.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

It's Been an Atrocious Election Year...

The recent presidential election has left me feeling depressed. It seems to have had that effect on quite a few die-hard lefties.

There are bound to be at least one or two people who'll point out that had Hillary Clinton, there'd still be approximately half the country depressed over the election results. It was a close election. And while Hillary won more physical votes, she lost by way of the electoral college. It's happened before. Trust me: as a voter who lived in Florida during the 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore, I'm well aware that there are contentious elections. Any time you have bumper stickers showing up saying that the state you live in has Electile Dysfunction, you know that there are unhappy voters.

And yet, the 2000 election can't possibly as contentious as this year's election. While many Republicans hated Hillary, mentioning her emails during her time as Secretary of State, along with any and all complaints, it was nothing compared to how Democrats felt about Donald Trump. Heck, even members of his own party tried distancing themselves from him.

Anne Lamott is one of my favorite writers. She's written several books of essays about becoming a Christian (Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith), and her ongoing struggles of meshing her faith with her left-wing politics (Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith and Grace Eventually: Thoughts on Faith). In the first essay in Plan B ("Ham of God"), Lamott wrote, "Everyone I know has been devastated by Bush's presidency...So much has been stolen by Bush, from the very beginning of his reign...I have had it with Bush. Hadn't the men in the White House ever heard of the word karma?"

The first time I read these words, I practically cheered. I haven't voted for any of the Bush family: Not George H.W. Bush, not W., and not younger brother Jeb for Florida governor. Did I mention being a die-hard lefty Democrat - and a feminist, too?

And yet, while I've never voted for the Bushes, the thought of Trump in the White House, and seeing the people he's picking to surround himself with - rich white men who seem to be positively allergic to anyone who isn't a rich WASP-ish male - is making me positively nostalgic for the Bush years - all 12 in the White House, along with Jeb's in Tallahassee. For me to even think that way, much less write about it, should tell you something about my deep mistrust of he-who-shall-not-be-named.

That last bit - the "he-who-shall-not-be-named" - should look familiar to anyone who follows Stephen King's Twitter page. I've got to respect someone who calls the president-elect that.

When I went to bed the night of November 8, the end results weren't in. Around 2:30, I got up to use the bathroom and passed my youngest son, J., in the hallway. I didn't dare ask at that hour who won. I figured if it was a clear-cut Hillary win, he would have told me. The fact that he didn't say anything, other than to announce he was heading for bed, meant that either he-who-shall-not-be-named had won, or it was still up in the air. I hoped that it was the latter and went back to bed.

But no. When I got up in the morning, the obscene headline told it all.

The chatter on Facebook and Twitter has been crazy: it's not hard to tell who voted for whom by the posts.

But after a week-and-half, the die-hard lefties seem to be deciding, "Okay, so now what do we do?", while posting ways to get rid of the electoral college, and try blocking some of he-who-shall-not-be-named's picks from actually ending up in DC.

It's going to be a long haul. Let's just hope and pray he-who doesn't screw up as bad as we're afraid of.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Just Horsing Around

Note: Please check bottom of today's post for a request - and it includes a chance for a gift. End of Note

I love horses. I probably always have. Even owned two of them when I was younger, but more on that in a minute or two.

There are several stables near where I live, and I pass by them on a regular basis. Doing so always brings back fond memories.

I went for a bike ride this morning. Usually, when out walking or bike riding, I'll start off by heading south, which would take me past the closest stable, but today I headed north. After maybe twenty minutes of riding, I ended up on a road just south of my neighborhood; the stable closest to my house is on this road. It would have made sense to go straight home. But instead, I crossed the street and headed south a little further, passing five people on horses - four in one group, the fifth coming from the dirt road I was about to head down.

"Beautiful day!" enthused one of the riders and I agreed. The group was crossing at the same crosswalk I was, with traffic actually waiting for us. There's usually one car that will fly through the crosswalk, ignoring the flashing lights. Did they all wait because of the line of horses, or because of the waiting police cruiser? Hmmmm...

Down the dirt road, there's a house on the left, moved in about twelve years earlier. On the right side as I headed south, there's a drainage ditch, then part of a group of townhouses, then another stable.

Usually, there are several horses out in the pasture closest to the ditch. But this morning, there were only two. They were both laying in the shade in a dirt patch that horses frequently roll in. Want to see something amusing, watch a full-grown horse rolling on its back in the dirt, kicking all four legs, as it gets all those pesky itchy spots on its back. After a minute, it'll get back off and shake off the dirt, dust rising, before moving on, frequently at a gallop.

But these two horses were just laying there. I watched for a few minutes, wondering whether to be concerned. Were they okay? Sick? They were the only two horses there; were they being quarantined from the horses peering out from the stable? One of the horses looked over with intelligent brown eyes.

I wandered a little farther south, pushing my bike, as the dirt here was too soft to peddle through. But a minute later, I was back, watching the horses.

A man on horseback came along the dirt path. "It always seems strange seeing those two just lying there," he stated. "They're like that every morning." I nodded as he headed off.

Just they, one of the horses stood, as the other rolled over, kicked its legs once, then righted itself.

Heading north, I soon crossed the street, smelling the stable near me before I got to it. Even the smell triggers memories.

As a kid in New York state, I'd taken riding lessons, first at one stable, then another where several of my friends were also taking lessons. One of my favorite horses at the second stable was an older mare named Bionda. We all had our favorite horses to ride while getting our riding lessons.

One evening, as we waited for our parents to pick us up, we talked about what we'd all do that evening; it mostly entailed finishing our homework, eating dinner (we sympathized with a girl who said her mom was fixing liver and onions), then watching The Flintstones. Did it really get any better than that?

Later, when we moved to a little town in Connecticut (Thompson, up in the northeast corner), I bought the first of my two horses. Miss Troy Girl - Missy - was a Standardbred and had raced in her younger days as a pacer. She usually was easy to ride, except when she'd get it into her head that she wanted to pace instead of trot. (Pacing is about the same speed as a trot - slower than a canter, much slower than a gallop - but instead of the right front leg and left rear one going forward at once, followed by the left front and right rear legs, the legs on both side move back and forth at the same time. Not a comfortable ride.)

Then there was Copper Penny, a younger horse who loved to run, a high-spirited one.

At this stable, there'd once been an old horse named Smokey. Frequently, when I'd be out for a run, I'd stop and feed her carrots. It got to the point where she's see me and immediately head over to the fence to see if I had a treat.

Smokey's gone now; she was old for a horse. But there are other horses there, and I enjoy watching them.

I'm sure I'll move from here eventually. And when that time comes, I hope it's near horses.

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